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Scholarship Recipient Solange Jackson Advocates for Public Health

Undergraduate student is driven to change inequities in health care.

A profile shot of a young woman standing outdoors
Photo: Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego

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This article originally appeared in the spring 2024 issue of UC San Diego Magazine as “From the Heart.”

When Solange Jackson’s brother, Solomon, suddenly collapsed while exercising with his college football team in 2016, her family was shocked. While in a coma at the hospital, he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes the thickening of the heart muscle. “No one ever detected my brother’s condition,” says Jackson. “I felt like, with all the physicals we get as athletes, why did no one do a heart check on him? How was it never detected?”

After a week, Jackson’s brother died. He was 20. His condition could have been treated if caught earlier. 

Today, as a fourth-year human biology major at UC San Diego, Jackson hopes that her brother’s story can be used to save lives. “I started noticing that there were other cases of Black and brown students collapsing while doing the things that they love,” she says. This has driven her academic and public service pursuits. She has applied to master’s degree programs in health care administration or public health and hopes to make a positive impact on health care policies in underrepresented or marginalized communities.

Jackson is the recipient of the UC San Diego UJIMA Network Black History Month Scholarship Endowment, which is endorsed by the university’s Black History Month Committee and Black Alumni Council, and is awarded to undergraduate students who have demonstrated academic and creative achievement in the study of African Americans and their history and culture.

While on campus, Jackson helped create the Black Pre-Med Society, UC San Diego’s first pre-med organization dedicated to cultivating the success of Black pre-med and pre-health students. She also participated in the Fade Hypertension initiative, where students volunteer at local Black-owned barber shops to offer free blood pressure screenings, which can be an indicator of heart health. Jackson, a member of the UC San Diego cheer team, also volunteers as a cheer coach at The Preuss School UC San Diego, a charter middle and high school for low-income scholars from across San Diego County who strive to become the first in their family to graduate from college. 

The scholarship has helped cover costs related to food and housing and has given Jackson the opportunity to focus her time on making an impact in the community.

“Scholarships support the education of students who want to change the world,” says Jackson. “That’s what we are all about at UC San Diego. It’s about making waves for a brighter future.”

To support outstanding students like Jackson, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla has established a matching program for the Chancellor’s Alumni Council Scholarships. Through June 30, 2025, Chancellor Khosla will match eligible gifts 1:1 that are made to any of the four scholarships endorsed by alumni affinity groups:

  • UJIMA Network Black History Month Scholarship | Black Alumni Council 
  • Asian/Pacific-Islander Alumni Council Scholarship | Asian Pacific Islander Alumni Council
  • Madrinas and Padrinos Scholarship Endowment | Chicanx Latinx Alumni Council
  • Zenaida and Emilio dela Pena Scholarship | Pilipino/a/x Alumni Council

This article originally appeared in the spring 2024 issue of UC San Diego Magazine as “From the Heart.”

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